Learning how to find hidden sugar in food is no mean feat, especially when some of the so-called “health” foods are loaded with more hidden sugars than their “junky” counterparts. That’s why we’re here to show you what's lurking under the tip of the iceberg of 6 deceptively sugar-laden foods so you’ll be armed and ready on your next shopping trip – plus, we’ll be sharing a FREE tasty, wholesome tzatziki recipe to light up your next meal.
It’s fruit so it must be healthy, right? Well, not quite. Dried fruit may share the same origin as whole fruit, but it’s a far more concentrated version, meaning more sugar. Dried fruits tend to be made up of around 38 to 66% sugar. While both whole and fried fruit are packed with fibre that helps to break down the fructose, dried fruits tend to tip the scale in the direction of excess fructose. Fructose can be a tricky thing as our livers are put under the gun to metabolise it, and too much of it can lead to the development of visceral fat and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – this affects around a quarter of the population, and sugar is one of the big culprits. So, if you’re eating dried fruit, make sure there’s no added sugars in your product and consume it in moderation. But, ideally, go for whole, fresh fruit.
While we love hummus, guacamole and tzatziki here at I Quit Sugar, it’s worth keeping a wary eye on store-bought versions of these dips. Ultra-processed brands may be harbouring hidden sugars, excessive salt and other preservatives that don’t need to be there. That’s why we love to make this stuff at home – all of the flavour with none of the sugar!
Keen for simple, quick recipes for your favourite dips? We’ve got you covered – we have a range of recipes on the 8-Week Program, from hummus and avocado dip to the classic tzatziki. Here’s a FREE recipe for one of our tasty dips, and it makes for the perfect accompaniment to falafel or even cucumber and carrot sticks for a quick snack.
Healthy Quick Tzatziki Dip
- 6 tablespoon Greek yoghurt, full fat is best
- 1 Lebanese cucumber finely diced
- 4 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano dried or fresh
- 1 lemon use all the juice and the zest
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Get a small mixing bowl and gently spoon the diced cucumber, yoghurt, lemon juice, oregano and garlic together.
- Season with salt and pepper and place in the fridge, ready and waiting whenever you need it.
Find the full recipe HERE.
You’ll often notice cereal brands labelled as “natural”, “healthy” or even “clean”, but you might be surprised when you look at the back of the package. The ingredients list often reveals hidden sugars and preservatives, often listed under alternate names for added confusion. On the front of your cereal box, you’ll see pictures of whole grains and fresh fruit, but what’s inside is another story altogether. Added sugars, artificial flavours and colours are just the beginning for many of the popular cereal brands. It’s ultra-processed, deceptively-labelled “health” foods like these that are driving up rates of obesity as many Aussies are unaware they’re eating added sugars in their morning cereal. Rates of obesity have more than tripled since 1975, affecting 1.9 billion people around the globe. Studies have found a direct link between obesity and excessive added sugar consumption, as the fructose promotes the development of visceral fat. This is the dangerous kind of fat that wraps around the abdominal organs like the liver, increasing your risk for a number of health conditions, like non-alcoholic fatty liver. This deadly disease affects 25% of the population, and it’s showing no sign of slowing. Simple lifestyle changes can significantly reduce our risk for these diseases, and it starts with what we put in our bowls in the morning!
If you’re a cereal lover, you don’t have to give up on your favourite meal. Do your research on cereal brands and aim for a product with no added sugars and preservatives – unfortunately, you might find these brands on the pricier side. That’s why we love making our own cereal at home – it’s cheap, fresh and delicious. You can include any ingredients you like, from puffed whole grains to nuts, seeds and whole fruit. You may even want to add some coconut flakes and nut butter for that extra flair.
Like cereal, you’ll often find that muesli bars are loaded with added sugars. Looking at the packaging and branding, however, will lead you to another conclusion. Not to mention, muesli bars are often located in the health-food section of the supermarket, implying that these products are good for us. But a closer inspection reveals ingredients like honey, syrup, sugar, alcohol sugars – some of which may result in digestive distress – and a host of preservatives, flavour and colours. That’s why it’s safer – and cheaper – to make your own. Oats, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, nuts, puffed quinoa or brown rice and hemp seeds make for great ingredients for your muesli bars. Ingredients like peanut butter and coconut oil help to bind the ingredients together so you have a neatly-formed muesli bar.
This one’s complicated – yoghurt itself is highly nutritious and loaded with gut-healthy probiotics, calcium and protein, but ultra-processed versions can be more sugar-laden than ice cream! You might be surprised to learn how much sugar you’re downing when you choose some varieties of flavoured yoghurts, for instance, Gippsland’s Blueberry Twist yoghurt packs 25.4 grams of sugar in a 160-gram serve – that shoots you past the daily added sugar limit for women in just one serve. If you’ve made the conscious choice to avoid sugary desserts, you might think you’re safe in the yoghurt aisle, but evidently, there’s a host of hidden sugars in some of the most popular brands. Artificial colours found in flavoured yoghurts also pose a risk – recent research revealed that they may play a role in triggering the inflammatory bowel disease – a group of bowel conditions defined by chronic inflammation, often including bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Red and yellow dyes were found most likely to lead to inflammation, though most other artificial dyes are similarly unhealthy. You’ll also want to look out for preservatives like emulsifiers, which have also been linked with chronic inflammation, obesity and gut dysbiosis as they trigger chemical changes in the body. The safest option is to stick to plain varieties like natural or Greek yoghurt. Just be sure to check the ingredients list on the back – if you see added sugars, preservatives and flavours, run for the hills! If you’re not a fan of plain yoghurt, you can get creative at home. Add some nut butter to your yoghurt or a bit of fruit if you’re a sweet tooth. Cinnamon and cardamom also pair nicely to add some flavour to your yoghurt.
The gluten-free aisle
While great strides have been made in gluten-free options at the supermarket, just because a snack is labelled gluten free, it doesn’t mean it’s added sugar free! But you’d be forgiven for believing so when you see the packaging of a number of these snacks with many labelled as healthy and all-natural. The proof is in the ingredient pudding – always check the back of the product to see what’s actually in it. If you have celiac disease or are gluten-intolerant – or are just avoiding gluten – one of the biggest pitfalls is bread. Bread and wraps can be loaded with preservatives and hidden sugars. Research shows that many gluten-free processed snacks are not only higher in sugar, but drastically lower in fibre and protein than their counterparts. You’d be better off opting for gluten-free whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, or snacks like nuts, fruit, plain yoghurt, or some crunchy veggies with hummus.
It’s no secret that a sugar habit is a tough one to beat – wherever you go, sugar is there. Unlike ditching alcohol or illicit drugs, there are few places where sugar is unwelcome. From birthday parties and functions to the office pantry, Sunday markets and the supermarket. Is it any wonder that so many of us find it hard to quit the stuff? That’s why it can also help to join a program like ours – our 8-Week Program is based on accountability, support and providing the essential resources to set you up for success. We’ll help you change the way you look at food – and that doesn’t mean you have to follow restrictive diets or miss out on your favourite foods; we believe you can still enjoy delicious food without jeopardising your health. With celebrity chef Sarah Glover on our panel of experts, you’ll have an array of fun recipes at your fingertips, along with our own exclusive armoury of simple, tasty and healthy recipes for everything from daily meals to impressive entertaining. We’ve also got nutritionists, personal trainers and naturopaths in our team of experts, and they understand what our bodies need and how to best arm ourselves against those cravings. So, if you’ve been having a little trouble keeping that sugar addiction at bay, we’re here to help. We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
- 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
- 90+ member-only recipes.
- Community forums to share your journey.
- Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
- Exclusive content from our panel of experts.
So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to join. We’d love to help you get started on your health journey. Sign up HERE today!